Rebuffed in his efforts to restart Maryland’s men’s basketball rivalry with Georgetown, Terrapins Athletic Director Kevin Anderson has decided against scheduling games against the Hoyas in all sports until the impasse is resolved.
Maryland issued no news release about the policy change, which was made behind closed doors more than a month ago in concert with all the school’s head coaches, according to Anderson.
And Maryland apparently hasn’t officially informed Georgetown of its new stance, which means the budding rivalry between the Washington area’s dominant women’s basketball teams will come to a halt. It also puts on hold further crosstown clashes between Maryland and Georgetown in lacrosse and soccer starting next season — among the half-dozen varsity teams that met (or will meet) this season.
“We think that across the board, if we’re going to play people — particularly somebody in our own region — they should be able and willing to play us in everything,” Anderson said in a telephone interview. “If we could sit down and talk about it, and have a good dialogue, we’re more than happy to pursue other avenues. But we want to play Georgetown in all sports.”
Georgetown Athletic Director Lee Reed was not made available to comment on the matter. Said Mike “Mex” Carey, the Hoyas’ sports information director: “We do not make a habit of commenting on the scheduling practices of other schools.”
The decision reflects mounting frustration on Anderson’s part in trying to schedule a home-and-home men’s basketball series with Georgetown — a move he feels would be good for both universities’ fans and bottom lines.
The decision also reflects Maryland’s urgent need to generate revenue. Faced with a $2.8 million athletic department shortfall this season that is projected to balloon to $14.6 million in 2016, Maryland announced in November that it will drop eight of its 27 varsity teams.
Attendance at Maryland basketball games has dropped every year since 2007-08, mirroring a trend throughout the ACC. And basketball revenue has dropped 33.6 percent in the last six years.
By halting all future athletic contests with Georgetown, Maryland, in effect, is trying to ratchet up pressure on a reluctant trading partner.
The controversial step will likely be seen as bold by Maryland partisans: evidence that Anderson is using all means at his disposal to restore Terrapins athletics to solvency.
“Both teams [Maryland and Georgetown] have a great basketball history,” Anderson said. “We’re both right there [in the Washington area]. Everybody benefits in this. I can’t see any kind of losing scenario.”
Georgetown partisans are likely to view the move as heavy-handed: an example of clumsy diplomacy that costs student-athletes, above all, the chance to compete against a crosstown foe.
But it has the full support of Maryland’s women’s basketball Coach Brenda Frese, whose Terps avenged two losses to Georgetown last season with a 72-53 victory in November. The teams met in last season’s NCAA tournament, with the Hoyas dismantling the Terrapins on their home court at Comcast Center to advance to the Sweet 16.
Frese said that she and her fellow coaches all agreed that “it makes absolute sense” to stop scheduling Georgetown until the conflict over men’s basketball is resolved.
“We’ll look to start that back up if and when something takes place with men’s basketball,” Frese said. “For the time being, we do all line up as one team and one athletic department here at Maryland. It makes no sense that in men’s basketball there isn’t a home-and-home going on with Maryland and Georgetown — obviously with the interest it would draw, as well as the revenues.”
Maryland and Georgetown last met in the Old Spice Classic in November 2008, with Georgetown scoring a 75-48 rout. They also met in the 2001 NCAA tournament’s round of 16, with Maryland winning. But their last scheduled regular season game was in 1993.
According to Anderson, he broached the subject of resuming the series with Reed over lunch in spring 2011, and Reed indicated interest. Once news leaked out that the rivalry might be restarted, Reed said publicly that it was “inappropriate to prematurely blow this out of proportion.”
According to Anderson, that was the last time the two have discussed the matter.
“I’ve been at Maryland for a year and a half now, and everybody asks, ‘When are you going to schedule Georgetown?’ ” Anderson said.
“I’m trying to understand why they won’t even talk to us about playing men’s basketball. If they give me a good reason, we’ll look at this again and re-evaluate where we are.”